Buying a home is one of the most important decisions you can make in your lifetime. The home buying experience can be overwhelming, hence the need to outline the nitty-gritty details from the onset. Writing down your priorities goes a long way in guiding you during the process without overlooking details that could be important for you and your family.
It also helps you eliminate houses that aren’t a good fit and compare those that work for you. Here’s a comprehensive list of everything you must remember during a home buying experience.
You don’t want to be that neighbor whose trash isn’t picked up in your neighborhood. Streamlining the pickup process is a critical part of your home buying experience. Find out when and how often the residential trash pickup visits the neighborhood.
Garbage collection is done weekly for most neighborhoods, but you need to know the exact day and time the pickup track visits. Normally, the garbage truck will drive around on a specific day every week to collect trash. Thus, if you get the cans out after the garbage truck rolls through, you’ll have to wait till the following week.
Also check if there are special considerations, e.g., handling bulky items, yard waste, or e-waste. The pickup truck may leave trash behind because it’s scheduled for specific days of the year. For example, bulk items like box springs, sofas, and mattresses are collected on specific weeks of the year.
You must also find out if there’s a limit to the amount of waste the garbage collector can carry. The garbage collector might not weigh or measure the cans, but they can tell when a can is too heavy. As such, you want to check if the local trash pickup has such limitations.
Sometimes the garbage collection truck leaves your trash because it is inaccessible. It could be the garbage can was placed far away from the curb, a car is parked in front of the can, or trees are blocking the cans from getting lifted. Other issues that could lead to a missed trash pickup are:
- Lids not being closed all the way
- Cans set out oddly
- Not placing the trash cans 2-3 feet away from each other
Heating and Air
Another essential factor to check is the home’s heating and air conditioning system. Note that heating and air conditioning systems make up nearly 50% of a home’s energy bills; thus, a thorough inspection by ac contractors is a critical aspect of a home buying experience.
Many home buyers rely on general home inspections to determine the health of an HVAC system, but they don’t always reveal everything. Home inspectors hardly have the expertise to identify a faulty air conditioning system.
They will likely turn the AC on and off to ensure they’re functional. However, we all know that an air conditioner can appear functional even with an underlying problem. It would help to enlist the help of an HVAC equipment company to check the device.
They will also determine the age of the AC system to help you estimate its life expectancy and plan for a new system. New HVAC systems last more than 20 years, while older ones last only 10 years. Buying a home with an old system could be a deal breaker if the realtor or seller doesn’t reveal this information on time.
However, if the AC contractor informs you about the aging system, you can leverage this information to negotiate the asking price. A professional inspection will also help you determine the system’s efficiency. Heating and cooling efficiency is measured using the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency rating system, assigned as a percentage.
Systems with higher percentages are more efficient and likely to reduce energy costs. You also want to get the HVAC’s maintenance history. It’s a critical aspect of a home-buying experience as it helps you understand if the system is running smoothly. A history indicating excessive maintenance calls is a telltale sign of a problematic HVAC system.
If parking is important to you, it will help to factor it into your home buying experience. Check if the prospective homes have parking space, its condition, location, the space available, and if it needs additional services to make it habitable.
For example, if you prefer a parking space near your home because you’re running a business from home or have a disability, a property with a detached parking space might not be a great pick.
Sometimes, the home might have a garage, but the garage door needs repair or servicing. This is an excellent opportunity to renegotiate the asking price because you must enlist a garage door installation service to repair the door once you buy the property.
If the property doesn’t have a garage but has space for setting up one, it’s best to ask your realtor if there are regulations regarding building one. Sometimes the space is available to build a garage, but it could be too small to accommodate two cars.
If that’s the case, your next best option is to look for a property with a dedicated parking space. It should allow you to park near your house with exclusive rights to its use. That’s because some properties appear to have the benefits of particular parking spaces, but legal documents prohibit such use.
You’re probably required to make a certain payment to use the space. Ask the solicitor to clarify such issues to avoid problems in the future. Look out for phrases like off-street parking when buying the home. It could mean homeowners park in a designated area on a first-come, first-served basis, or they can park off the road locally.
You also want to determine if there are legal issues regarding car parking. Some properties restrict homeowners from parking other vehicles other than private motor cars on the driveway. You can’t park a trade van, caravan, boat, or vehicle.
The property’s location is another critical factor in any home buying experience. Many homeowners get caught up in the number of bedrooms, the size of the property, and other such features.
However, amenities like grocery stores, cafes, schools, hospitals, and local restaurants make a property more attractive.
There’s a big difference between walking to a local restaurant in 10 minutes and driving an hour for a decent meal. In addition to essential amenities, proximity to amenities like a gym, yoga studio, and a mall make a property more desirable.
After identifying the ideal property, making payment, and finalizing the contract, the next step is to make the space more welcoming before moving. Some homeowners prefer painting before moving, while others paint the space after moving.
The latter option is ideal for homeowners looking for a paint color that complements their new rug, upholstery, and artwork. As a general rule, it’s best to paint before moving house. Not only does it save on time but also on labor. Painting services professionals can easily maneuver the house, saving time.
Also, you don’t have to move furniture twice. The professionals can prep the painting area without worrying about ruining furniture, flooring, and furnishings. Painting before moving to a new house also gives you decor inspiration for the rest of the decor. You can decide which colors work best in space and accentuate your style.
Moving homes can be a stressful experience for any home buying experience. It requires months of organization, planning, and physical labor. You may consider moving homes with the help of friends because it’s more affordable and efficient.
Conversely, friends can disappoint you at the last minute, leaving you to move alone. It would help to hire a local mover to avoid such hassles. Their professional experience makes moving swift and efficient.
They know how to pack household items, the kind of packing supplies required, and how to fit bulky items through a doorway, saving you hours of research in proper packing and lifting methods. In addition, a moving company is punctual, accountable, and respectful when handling your handling.
Your friends are less likely to show much concern when handling household items and oblivious to any packing techniques. Also, they’re not liable for any damaged or lost household items. On the other hand, a moving company takes liability for lost or damaged items, giving you peace of mind that fragile items will arrive safely in your new home.
Windows can make or break a property’s overall appearance hence the need to add them to your home buying experience. Start by checking the frames for wear, rot, and warping. If broken or damaged, consider negotiating the asking price to cater for the cost of hiring window replacement companies.
Also, check if the windows protect against sun exposure. Windows should protect your curtains, floors, furniture, and carpets from prolonged sun exposure. Such windows have low-E glass which minimizes sun damage by 75% and fading.
You may also need to check if the windows are energy-efficient. Such windows save 25-30% in heating and cooling costs and block out solar heat by 70% during warm months. At the same time, energy-efficient windows insulate in cold months by keeping cold air out and keeping hot air in. As a result, you save on energy costs because you don’t have to rely on the heating system to keep you warm.
Sometimes, the seller invests in new windows before selling the house, which increases the property’s value significantly (by 90%). In real estate, an ROI of 90% is exceptional, especially for an older home. If you make an offer on such a home, you should be prepared to purchase it at a higher cost.
You also want to check if the property has outside additions during your home buying experience. Not only do they increase the value of a home, but they also attract buyers when selling a property.
You want to look for properties with outdoor additions like decks, sunrooms, screen rooms, a pool, and stand-alone garages. Deck additions are great for hosting friends and family and relaxing if well maintained.
If the prospective property has a deck, it’s best to ask a deck contractor to help you check if it’s in good condition. Decks are more prone to weather damage than patios and other outside additions. At the same time, they have a higher return on investment, usually 100%, albeit the initial costs.
Stand-alone garages also make great additions to outdoor spaces. They provide car shelter and double up as storage space for holiday decorations, fishing gear, store tools, and other household items. Garages also increase a home’s value, boosting your equity and return on investment when selling a home.
Another outside addition to look out for is a patio. It’s a great place to relax, dine and spend time with friends and family. Patios also don’t need as much maintenance as decks because they’re made from sturdy materials like stone, brick, and concrete. You only need to weed out around the joints and paving stones to keep the space neat.
You’re probably wondering if you should focus more on the amenities near the property or the greenery. The truth is both aspects are important. Amenities like parking, a gym, security, and power backup garbage disposal seem basic, but you must never compromise.
However, a property can have all such amenities close by and lack open spaces to keep you happy and content in the long term. Note that greenery is a feature that can’t be added after buying the property; it depends on the availability of free land.
Sadly, many real estate developers focus on equipping homes with swimming pools, clubhouses, gyms, and other such facilities, neglecting plantations, trees, and lawns. These features play a critical role in your mental and physical well-being.
As such, you want to look for a property that balances amenities, design, architecture, greenery, and plantations. If possible, a water body. Plants, trees, and gardens produce fresh air, which helps your mind feel relaxed.
Greenery also improves the air quality, which absorbs dust and harmful gasses. They are a great aesthetic to a home too. A lawn that has been well-trimmed adds vibrance to a property. After buying the property, you may add decorative plants to soften the interior and reduce monotony around the property.
If the tree branches are overgrown, ask a tree service professional to trim them to an appropriate size. Overgrown tree branches pose a safety hazard to a family, especially if overhanging near the roof of a house. They may fall during extreme weather conditions damaging the property.
With this guide, your home buying experience doesn’t need to be daunting. It helps you prioritize the most important aspects to consider when looking for a house, making it easy to eliminate options that don’t fit that criteria. Remember to consult experts to make more informed decisions.